IS THE DOCTRINE of the Trinity a man-made creed or is it truly a biblical doctrine?” E. Calvin Beisner, writer in theology, posed this question in the preface to his book, God in Three Persons. The answer to this question can readily be deduced from his admission that the word ‘Trinity’ is not found in the Bible.” If this doctrine is not found in the Bible, obviously, it is man-made. However, the Trinitarians argue that although the concept of the Trinity was merely formulated by men, it is an accurate representation of the teaching of the New Testament (God in Three Persons, p. 7).
It behooves us then to examine the Trinity doctrine in the light of the Holy Scriptures. Is there really any teaching in the Bible that supports the concept of God having three distinct divine persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? The Bible tells us that since the beginning, the people of God have believed in a solitary God with no hint whatsoever that He is divided into three distinct beings. Moses, the prophet of God, spoke to the Israelites and proclaimed:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Dt. 6:4, New King James Version)
In the Hebrew Bible which is also called The Old Testament, the Israelites recite twice daily the Shema in accordance with the rabbinic interpretation of Deuteronomy 6:7. The shema, Hebrew, “Hear [O Israel],” the first word of Deuteronomy 6:4, clearly reveals to us the strict monotheism upheld by the Israelites. There is no doubt in their minds that there is only one true God (Is. 46:9, Jer. 10:10).
Jesus our Lord, when asked by one of the scribes, “What is the greatest commandment in the law?” being an Israelite, replied by affirming the oneness of God:
“…The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one’.” (Mk. 12:29, NKJV)
With regard to the identity of the one true God, Christ didactically emphasized in His mediatory prayer that it is the Father alone who should be recognized as the only true God. John recorded this statement of our Lord Jesus Christ in 17:1,3:
“…Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, …And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (Ibid.)
However, in contrast to what was taught by Moses and Jesus Christ, Catholics and Protestants adhere to an ambiguous and confusing concept of God based on a creed ascribed to a certain Athanasius. Part of the so-called Athanasian creed reads:
“And the Catholic faith is this: that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.” (McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia)
The Trinity doctrine, considered as sacrosanct by its adherents, is crucial to Catholic and Protestant theologians in explaining their view of God from the basic Judeo-Christian perspective. Although these theologians do not subscribe to Judaism’s strict monotheism, they use the Old Testament in expounding their belief on the Trinity. This doctrine is so much ingrained into their theology. Consequently, voluminous writings were made in trying to explain the dogma. Books on systematic theology abound with critical analyses of the doctrine.
However, is Trinity taught in the Holy Scriptures? Edmund J. Fortman, an author who discusses a historical study of the doctrine of the Trinity, says:
“Catholic theologians today maintain that neither a trinity or a plurality of divine persons is taught or revealed explicitly in the Old Testament.” (The Triune God: A Historical Study of the Doctrine of the Trinity, p. 290)
Explicitly or implicitly, there is nothing in the Bible that teaches God as a Trinity! Catholic authorities further admit:
“The word ‘Trinity’ does not appear in the New Testament; and the meanings of the words ‘person’ and ‘nature’ in the precise senses in which these words are used to bear that message rightly.” (The Teaching of Christ: A Catholic Catechism for Adults, p. 177)
“The doctrine of the Trinity as commonly defined is not found in the Bible. For we assert that there are three persons in one God—a statement not found in Scripture.” (Full Christianity: A Catholic Response to Fundamental Questions, p. 25)
If one were to ask a Trinitarian to explain the doctrine that there are three persons in one God, he would likely get this same answer:
“This [the Trinity] is a mystery that no human mind can completely understand.” (A Catechism for Adults, p. 13)
Could a person who is learned in the Scriptures, for instance a theologian, comprehend the Trinity doctrine?
Fortman, a professor emeritus of historical theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at the Jesuit School of Theology in Chicago who holds a Doctorate Degree in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, answers this question by saying that “…there is a general agreement among theologians that this dogma is a strict mystery …” (The Triune God A Historical Study of the Doctrine of the Trinity, p. 289)
Whether reason can be used to comprehend this so-called mysterious doctrine, Footman confesses, “…that reason alone…cannot know it [The Trinity Doctrine]…cannot positively demonstrate it…” (Ibid.).
But if reason could not know this so-called mystery, then on what ground should one accept the Trinity doctrine? Trinitarian apologists would come to the defense and reason out that faith should be the basis in accepting it. As William J. Cogan reasons out”
“Faith is accepting something on the word of another. God says that there are three Persons in the One God. If you accept that statement as being true because He said so, then you have faith.” (A Catechism for Adults, p.13)
By this very same argument, it is made more evident that only through a blind faith or fanaticism can one accept the Trinity doctrine. Never has God in the Holy Scriptures said that there are three persons in one God. The Bible clearly affirms that there is only one God. God Himself proclaimed:
“Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a god besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any. (Is. 44:8, Revised Standard Version)
“Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me.” (Is. 46:9, NKJV)
These statements coming from God Himself nullify the so-called trinity of persons in one true Go. There is no other God besides the one true God and there is none like Him. There is no mention in the Bible of the one God having a first, a second, and a third person.
What is the confession of the Catholic Church regarding the Trinity doctrine which they firmly believe without reservation?
“The most difficult part and the deepest mystery of the Christian confession of God still stands before us: the confession of the triune or trinitarian God…The content of this ecumenical confession of the triune God can be stated most succinctly as one God in three persons. The confession does not say that one person equals three persons, or that one God equals three Gods, which is absurd…This confession of the triune God is a deep mystery that no created spirit can discover of itself or ever comprehend.” (The Church’s Confession of Faith: A Catholic Catechism for Adults, pp. 72-73)
Catholics admit that the Trinity doctrine is the most difficult part and the deepest mystery of Catholic confession. Why is it so difficult for them to understand this doctrine? Because it defies reason. Indeed, how could the one true God be manifested in three different persons and still be one in number?
Trinitarians will certainly not agree that to say that God is a Trinity, is the same as saying that there are three Gods. But simple logic leads one to no other conclusion than that the Trinitarians are really believing in three Gods. If it were true that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Holy Spirit, then each of the three would be a distinct being. And they add up to three beings, each of which they consider God. It is illogical to count them as just one God since they are three distinct beings and not just one. This is so simple that one does not have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out!
After over a thousand years of trying to figure out the Trinity doctrine, have the Catholics succeeded in coming up with a clear understanding of it? Martin J. Scott, a Catholic priest answers:
“The Trinity is a wonderful mystery. No one understands it. The most learned theologian, the holiest Pope, the greatest saint, all are as mystified by it as the child of seven.” (God and Myself: An Inquiry into the True Religion, p. 118)
Sadly, Catholics believe in a doctrine that they themselves and their mentors do not understand. What about the Protestants who simply inherited this doctrine from the Catholics? Have they arrived at a clear and comprehensible understanding of the Trinity doctrine? Wayne Grudem, a Protestant theologian who is a professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical School, Deerfield, Illinois and holds doctorate degrees from Harvard, Westminster Seminary and Cambridge, admits:
“…With respect to the doctrine of the Trinity, we affirmed that God exists in three persons, and each is fully God, and there is one God. Although those statements are not contradictory, they are, nonetheless, difficult to understand in connection with each other, and although we can make some progress in understanding how they fit together, in this life, at least, we have to admit that there can be no final understanding on our part.” (Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, p. 538)
Why can there be no final understanding on their part as far as the Trinity doctrine is concerned? Here is a situation that is puzzling to our Trinitarian friends as described by Grudem:
“What then do we say about the fact that ‘God cannot be tempted with evil’ (James 1:13)? It seems that this is one of a number of things that we must affirm to be true of Jesus’ divine nature but not of his human nature. His divine nature could not be tempted with evil, but his human nature could be tempted and was clearly tempted. How these two natures united in one person in facing temptations, Scripture does not clearly explain to us.” (Ibid., p. 539)
The answer is plain and simple: Jesus is not God because it was Jesus, not God, who was tempted with evil. In fact, if they only believe what Jesus was taught that the Father is the only true God, they would not fall into error of believing that God is both God and man at the same time.
If the Trinity doctrine can not be understood by leading Catholic and Protestant theologians, how can it be understood by an average person on the street? If a person accepts a doctrine that even his religious leaders could not understand, he must be a blind follower. This is a case of a blind being led by a fellow blind (Mt. 15:14)! If only they were satisfied with the unequivocal teaching of the apostles concerning who the true God is, they would not become consenting victims to the incongruent doctrine of the Trinity.
The Apostles, true Christians and defenders of the truth about God, proclaimed:
“Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; …” (I Cor. 8:6, New International Version)
The true Christians, like the apostles, are definitely not Trinitarians. They have learned the truth about God from Christ who taught them emphatically that the Father is the only true God (Jn. 17:1, 3). Ironically, the Trinitarians are defending an unbiblical doctrine. They say it is shrouded in mystery. But in the light of the Scriptures and sound reasoning, we have seen that the Trinity doctrine is absolutely not a wonderful mystery but an absurdity.
Beisner, E. Calvin. God in Three Persons.
Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1984
Chilson, Richard W. Full Christianity: A Catholic Response to Fundamental Questions. New York: Paulist Press, 1985.
Cogan, William J. A Catechism for Adults. Chicago, Illinois: ACTA Foundation, 1972.
Fortman, Edmund J. The Triune God: A Historical Study of the Doctrine of the
Trinity. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1972.
Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine.
Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994.
Lawler, Ronald, Donald W Wuerl, and Thomas C. Lawler, eds. The Teaching of
Christ: A Catholic Catechism for Adults. Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday
Visitor, Inc., 1976.
McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia, Electronic Database © 2000 by Biblesoft.
Schindler, David L., gen. ed. The Church’s Confession of Faith: A Catholic
Catechism for Adults. San Francisco: Communio Books, Ignatius Press, 1987.
Scott, Martin J., S.J. God and Myself: An Inquiry into the True Religion. New
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